By Rob Richie
Published April 9th 2006 in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
I want to respond to Colin McNickle's column about presidential elections in which he defended the Electoral College against a reform proposal to require that states "commit to casting their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote" ("Priceless republican relic," March 19 and TribLIVE.com).
-Voter turnout was up nationally in 2004, but there was a sharp disparity in each state based on whether the state was one in which campaigning mattered. In the 12 most competitive states in 2004, turnout rose 9 percent. In the 12 least competitive states, turnout was up only 2 percent. The turnout gap between eligible voters under 30 was fully 17 percent in 2004 in the 10 most competitive states compared to the rest of the nation.
-Calling for states to join together to establish a nationwide vote for president does not in any way affect our constitutional balance of power. It does not affect the U.S. Senate. It does not change state powers under the Constitution. And it does not affect the Bill of Rights. Having fairer elections for an office simply provides a more representative democracy within our republican structure.
-The current system has no partisan bias. George W. Bush would have lost the 2004 election with a shift of about 60,000 votes in Ohio despite his 3.5 million-vote win nationally. Rather, the bias is against most states, small and large, that get absolutely no attention from candidates. That's bad for states' rights and bad for America.